How to keep food fresh longer! Exactly how to store produce and food so it lasts longer. Eliminate food waste and stretch your grocery budget!
Don’t ya just HATE when you go to the grocery store and stock up on all kinds of beautiful produce…only to end up throwing half of it away?
It goes bad so quickly! Then you feel guilty about wasting food.
Not to mention sad about spending some of your hard-earned money on groceries that didn’t get used.
Luckily there are lots of methods of keeping food fresh we can use to keep your produce and other food from going bad so fast.
Let’s check ‘em out!
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👉 Want a FREE Meal Planning Kit to keep yourself organized? It’s a 12 super helpful pages… AND it includes 100+ meal ideas!
How to buy and store food so it lasts longer
There are some really easy things you can to extend the life of your food.
Keep your refrigerator at the proper temperature
Your fridge should ideally stay between 37-40℉. Any colder and your food may freeze, and any warmer and it will spoil faster.
A simple fridge thermometer is the best way to accurately check your refrigerator’s temperature.
Buy it as fresh as possible
Always thoroughly check your produce before buying. Shop at stores that sell the freshest produce, and always check expiration dates on everything you buy.
Pro-tip: When a fruit or vegetable feels heavy, and has a tight-feeling skin or peel, that’s a good indicator that it’s very fresh.
Plan your meals properly
If you find yourself going to the grocery store without a plan, it’s time to make one!
Decide ahead of time what meals you’ll make. That will dictate the ingredients you buy.
Then plan to eat the meals with the fastest-spoiling produce soonest after you shop.
Shop in season
When you buy the produce that’s in season in your area, you’re getting it at its freshest and most nutritious.
If it has to travel a long way, it’s often picked before its prime, and has longer to age before it gets to you.
Grab our Seasonal Produce Buying Guide to find out exactly what’s in season every month of the year!
Don’t overstuff your fridge
Your refridgerator needs space for air to move around or the appliance won’t work correctly.
Pro-tip: Put an ‘Eat First’ box in the refrigerator, to hold food that needs to be eaten soon. Front and center so you don’t forget about it!
How do I keep produce fresh longer?
Here are the best produce tips and tricks, and exactly how to store your food so it lasts a whole lot longer!
Tips for storing Fruit:
Ideally, keep berries in the package they come in, and don’t wash until right before eating.
Prefer to have them prepped in advance? Let them soak in a solution of water and vinegar for 5-10 minutes to preserve them longer.
Pro-tip: Place berries inside a colander, and put the colander in a bowl with the water and vinegar mixture.
Store bananas away from other fruit, and at room temperature.
Keep them in the bunch until you’re ready to eat them.
If they’re getting too soft to eat, put them in the freezer for smoothies and banana bread. Just be sure to peel them beforehand if freezing!
If your avocado is ripe, store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to eat it.
Store under-ripe avocados at room temperature.
And if you want to speed up the ripening process, place them in a paper bag with a banana!
To check if an avocado is still good, check the color of its stem base. If it’s yellow or green, it’s still good. If it’s brown, it’s past its prime.
Pro-tip: Only using half an avocado? Rub the exposed flesh of the other half with olive oil and store it face down.
Keep tomatoes on the counter stem-side down so they don’t get mealy.
If they look like they’re about to go bad, cut into slices or big chunks, and roast them in the oven.
Put the roasted tomatoes in a jar with some olive oil. They’ll be delicious, and last at least a week!
Tips for storing veggies
Wrap and store whole celery heads in aluminum foil to keep them crisp for 3-4 weeks.
Chopped celery can be kept in a container, covered by water, to ensure freshness.
Prevent mushrooms from getting slimy by keeping them in a paper bag, instead of the package they come in.
Don’t have a paper bag? Wrap them in a paper towel before storing in the fridge.
Wrap a head of lettuce in a paper towel to absorb moisture.
Move bagged lettuce to an air-tight container lined with a paper towel at the bottom.
Leaving it the clamshell packaging? Put a paper towel on top of the greens, then store the whole container upside down.
Or use an airtight container like this, which is especially designed to store produce like lettuce much longer.
Hardy greens like kale, Swiss chard, and collard greens can be stored in a glass with their stems in a little water to keep them crispy.
Cover them with a plastic bag (like a large ziploc) for optimal freshness.
When buying whole carrots, be sure to cut the greens off.
Then store whole or chopped carrots in a container, covered in water.
They can last up to a month like that! Just change the water every 4-5 days.
Potatoes are best stored in a cool, dark, and well-ventilated place.
Pro-tip: A cardboard box, basket, or paper or mesh bag work great for storing potatoes.
Keep them away from sunlight at a temperature of 45-55℉ for best results. And don’t wash them until you’re ready to use.
They can last 4-6 months like that!
Unpeeled onions also last longer in cool, dark places.
A basement, pantry, or garage are usually ideal.
Peeled onions can last in the fridge for 14 days or more. Sliced and diced onions are also best kept refrigerated, and can last upwards of 10 days.
Keep green onions in a glass with a bit of water to stay crunchy.
Don’t wash them until you’re ready to use them.
Cilantro, parsley, basil, and mint should be treated like a bouquet of flowers.
Trim the stems, and place in a jar with the stems in a little water.
Basil and mint are best kept at room temperature, while cilantro and parsley should be kept in the refrigerator.
Pro-tip: Cover the herbs with a plastic bag to further extend their crispness.
Winter squash keeps best in a cool, dark place.
Yellow squash and zucchini can be kept unwashed in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. For longest freshness, put them in a plastic bag with a few holes punched in it.
Asparagus will last longer if you place them refrigerated and upright in a jar, with the big ends in shallow water.
Tips for storing dairy products
Store cottage cheese and yogurt upside down
That way you won’t get the watery liquid on top.
Wrap cheese in parchment or wax paper
Then loosely in plastic wrap to prevent mold. Or use a vacuum sealer to make it last for 6 months or more in the fridge.
Keep your eggs and milk on the regular shelf
Many people keep their eggs and milk in the refrigerator door. But that’s the warmest part of the fridge.
Keep them on the regular shelf for a lasting freshness.
Keep butter in its original packaging
Butter can last for months in the fridge when kept in its proper packaging.
Or stock up on a sale price, and put the extra in the freezer!
Tips for storing pantry staples
Keep honey in the cupboard, to keep it from crystalizing. And honey never spoils!
If you see crystals starting to form, just microwave it for 30-60 seconds to make it viscous again.
Store flour in the freezer to keep out the humidity and bugs.
Nuts and seeds
Keep nuts and seeds in the fridge or freezer to GREATLY prolong their life!
Natural peanut butter
Store natural peanut butter jars upside down. That will prevent that annoying oil separation.
Don’t keep bread in the refrigerator.
Store it in a closed container like this cute breadbox, or even your microwave.
Or freeze it in small portions if you don’t use it quickly.
To preserve freshness, keep your dry goods in airtight storage containers or jars instead of their original packaging.
This works great for items like:
- Snack foods like crackers, chips, and pretzels
Often a recipe will only call for 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Put the remainder into a ziploc bag and freeze.
You can break off a chunk in the perfectly-sized portion that your recipe calls for.
Containers to keep food fresh longer
In addition to all these handy tips and tricks, there are containers made especially to keep food fresh longer.
Here are the best containers, products, and bags to keep your produce fresh.
Ready to keep your food fresh longer?
I hope these methods of keeping food fresh have given you lots of ideas for storing your groceries.
You can save SO much time, energy, and money by just prolonging the life of what you’re buying!
Be sure to also check out:
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- 15 Quick & Easy Dinners Using a Rotisserie Chicken